New Year Honours MBE for Leeds woman Rifhat Malik

Rifhat Malik.
Rifhat Malik.

A Leeds woman who has worked for more than 20 years to help diverse communities prosper has been awarded in the New Year Honours.

Rifhat Malik has received an MBE for services to Muslim women and to charity, one of many Leeds figures to receive an accolade in the annual host of awards.

Originally inspired by her husband of 31 years, Hanif, Mrs Malik has raised money for charity and helped hundreds of hard-to-reach people become more active.

In 1995, she became the first Muslim woman to become a fully trained fitness instructor in Leeds and has worked to promote trust and overcome cultural barriers, helping more than 300 isolated women during her classes.

One of her proudest moments was helping more than 40 Black and Minority Ethnic women who had never previously exercised become qualified instructors themselves.

She today told the YEP: “I’m very, very excited, I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about today.”

Speaking about what inspires her work, she said: “First and foremost, it’s my faith. As Muslims, we aim to do as much good as we can, to help everybody regardless of who they are.”

Mrs Malik, 51, co-founded the Give A Gift scheme four years ago with Hanif, aiming to get Asian people involved with mainstream charity causes.

Since 2013, through the Annual Ramadan Toys Appeal, which she established, more than 3,000 gifts have been donated to charities, benefiting over 500 children and their families.

The Moortown mother has also helped raise more than £100,000 for Martin House Children’s Hospice and for children’s heart surgery in Leeds. They also raised £20,000 for the Candlelighters cancer charity.

Kim Moloney, an honorary president of the Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange, got an MBE for services to Gypsies and Travellers.

Leeds man Richard West, a disability services and dispute resolution director at the Department for Work and Pensions for his public service, was made a Companion (CB).

Duncan Jacques, chief executive officer at Exceed Academies Trust, also of Leeds, got a CBE for his services to education.